If new scientific advances are anything to go by, creating new life could one day be done without a male.
Using a breakthrough technique involving stem cells and gene editing, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Science have managed to produce healthy baby mice with two mothers, each of which has subsequently been able to reproduce.
For the first time ever, mice with two fathers were also born during the study, but died soon after.
According to the BBC, Dr Wei Li, who conducted the experiments, said: "This research shows us what's possible."
He added: "We saw that the defects in bimaternal mice can be eliminated and that bipaternal reproduction barriers in mammals can also be crossed."
“We also revealed some of the most important imprinted regions that hinder the development of mice with same-sex parents, which are also interesting for studying genomic imprinting and animal cloning.”
The healthy bi-maternal mice were created through a process of imprinting genes from immature eggs, using haploid embryonic stem cells which contained half the normal number of chromosomes and DNA from each parent.
“We were interested in the question of why mammals can only undergo sexual reproduction,” the study’s co-author Dr Qi Zhou said, according to reports from The Independent.
“We have made several findings in the past by combining reproduction and regeneration, so we tried to find out whether more normal mice with two female parents, or even mice with two male parents, could be produced using haploid embryonic stem cells with gene deletions.”
Scientists reportedly believe they can improve the procedure to have greater success with creating bi-paternal mice.